Great list of "terrible" ideas that went on to be anything but…
Over the next few weeks there are five fantastic Entrepreneurship events going on, most actively seeking killer people like you to play vital roles. I’m helping them recruit . To participate in an event, simply click the link next to it for details and RSVP info. Shout if you have any Qs. THANK YOU!
- 4/13, TEDx UMass Amherst – Theme is innovation and entrepreneurship, organized by students, buy your ticket here.
- 4/15, Smith Draper Business Plan Competition – This is Smith’s first ever business plan competition, funded by a Silicon Valley VC (who will be in attendance ). The event is open to all who love entrepreneurship.
- 4/16, UMass EI Shark Tank – Sign up to be a (friendly) shark to help UMass student entrepreneurs prepare for the Isenberg Executive Summary Competition.
- 4/20, VVM & HGCF PitchCamp – Sign up to be a mentor at this pitch camp aiming to help student entrepreneurs up their game ahead of the HGCF Elevator Pitch Competition.
- 4/30, UMass EI, Isenberg Executive Summary Competition – Sign up to be a judge or guest for the twice yearly competition that helps UMass student entrepreneurs take their first leap into making their dreams real!
If you have already signed up for one or more of these events, my apologies for the redundant notification, but I wanted to make sure people knew about ALL the goodies available .
Thank you very kindly for all you do to help entrepreneurs thrive in the Valley!
The latest EconTalk podcast tells the mind-blowing story of how Valve, a 300+ person, $1+ Billion per year in revenue company operates with no hierarchy via emergent/spontaneous order. I think this is deeply though provoking for entrepreneurs.
Granted, if an entrepreneur started a company on this model today, odds of getting funding would be dropped to nearly zero because investors would not be interested in the added "management risk" from the model… and I wouldn’t blame them. But it is fascinating! Could this model thrive outside of Valve? What might it mean for startups that hate the idea of Big Company Structure?
I have the great delight of teaching entrepreneurship at UMass Amherst and Smith College. As I have benefited so much from other people sharing, it seemed only right to collect all of my original materials in one place and share them. Right now I only have a few courses there. But as I add new content I’ll update this blog.
Everything there is creative commons, so if you find anything of value please use & mix freely . If you see any errors or recommend any additions, let me know. Thanks!
A robot kiosk will assess the value of your unwanted electronic devices and dispense hard cash. This is a fantastic example of a Convenient positioned offering. They aren’t doing anything technically new. No new market here. But they found people who wanted an existing service (trading in an old gadget for money) to be MUCH EASIER. The old way of doing that was with people – who are expensive. So they invented a machine that can do it all for you… pretty amazing.
Find a need, fill it. A Bath Without Water started as a wish to not have to take baths. It evolved into a way to save millions of kids from going blind.
We all know of lots of "me too" companies and products. These companies are often run by entrepreneurs passionate about an existing product and they want to make their own version. Because of their obsession, they are sure that the differences they are building in are a true differentiation to the target market. But if you are too close, you may have a difference without a distinction for your target market – which is useless. I was guilty of this PLENTY when I started. I bet I’ll be guilty of it again, until friends and mentors correct my error .
But HERE is a podcast interview with the founder of EverPix, a company that I think HAS found a way to truly differentiate itself in the crowded marketplace of picture aps. Listen to the interview to hear how the entrepreneur expertly identifies the current competitive landscape, his differentiation, and why his differentiation matters to a large target market.
Click Workspace, a Northampton MA-based startup co-working space synergistic with RVI, VVM and EI, has offered me (and I have accepted) the position of President. To make room in for this new position I have stepped down from my position as Associate Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at UMass Amherst’s ISenberg School of Management. I am working with UMass to switch my role to adjunct faculty with the one task of teaching the EI course that I so love. With the balance of my time I remain fully engaged with RVI and VVM.
The Click Workspace founders already have a working organization whose customers love it and are begging for them to grow. It will be an honor to help the founders scale Click to become a powerful part of the rapidly expanding entrepreneurship ecosystem in Western Massachusetts.
If you get email from me, you may notice some changes. For instance…
- Subject lines include one of several keyword so you can instantly know what sort of email this is and thus prioritize it better in your own inbox.
- Request – I am asking you to do something / delegating a task to you
- Delivery – Email contains content you requested of me / I promised to give you
- Confirmed – I am letting you know that something you requested (a task, a meeting date & time, etc) is now confirmed
- Info – Email content is some information I thought you would find interesting, but is not anything I specifically promised to give you (aka low priority)
- EOM – means End Of Email. If a subject line ends in EOM, that means you don’t even need to open the email. Everything you need to know is right in the subject.
- Email bodies will tend to jump right to the meat, will put background material second, and then all the remaining content at the end. I’ll often put some bold headers just to make things clearer.
- I am sending fewer emails. Too often I cc’d people just-to-be-safe, or because people “like-to-know.” I’m trying to be far more deliberate when I email people. If I want people to be informed about activity, it is better for me to send them ONE email that summarizes what they might glean from being cc’d on a dozen. This decreases how much crap I put in other people’s inboxes and will likely decrease how much they send me in return.
- An exception to the “send fewer emails” is to try and have each email have no more than one request in it, or at least to have all requests be the kinds that can be done simultaneously. In that way each email is a task/task-bucket that can be handled in one sitting, no need to return to it multiple times to review a list of action items.
I get a lot of email. In fact, my whole life seems to revolve around email, and I find I am not able to keep up. Part of the problem is I am a glutton for punishment and sign up for yet another great project . But a big part of the problem is my own inefficient use of email. A friend very kindly saw I was drowning in email and got me the book The Hamster Revolution, how to manage your email before it manages you. The title made me skeptical. The book’s format made me more skeptical… but I gave it a try. And I am glad I did!
The short book is full of simple, actionable, and clearly good suggestions for improving email efficiency (many of them listed above). I am putting them to use and loving the results. I highly recommend it to people. You can find a more extensive summary of the book’s advice here.
I was fortunate to know Derek Lyman, first as my student in the UMass Amherst Entrepreneurship Initiative, then as a the youngest founder in my angel group’s first internet deal, and finally as a friend who went on to mentor so many of my students – and me as well. When you were with Derek, he focused on you intently, drew out your interests, and seeded you with new ideas that blew your mind. A friend recently said "He almost cost me my job more than once… as he helped me find amazing opportunities I would not have seen on my own."
He was ever the innovator. As he fought for his life against cancer he found the existing options unsatisfying… so he came back with a detailed report of flaws in the medical system and cancer treatment… and set out to start solving them. He invented his own science-based therapies that most of us believe let him live far past when the doctors thought he would. That was the kind of guy he was.
He passed away this weekend, just a few weeks past his 28th birthday.
He will be dearly missed.